Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Price is Right?


Wanna start a good fight in a bar?

There's a word that'll get the fists flying.

The Ontario government is considering turning over to the private sector their Hydro, Gaming and Liquor exclusives.

And this is not mere conjecture.

They have asked two major banks for assistance in this initiative.

This matter always seems to bring out the North and South in us all.

Turning government crown corporations over to the wheelhouses of the free market is always the best idea or the worst evil imaginable.

But I don't settle in either of those camps.

I would prefer governments to NOT be in many businesses IF AND ONLY IF they ever bothered to provide some safeguards and protections for the public good during the dumping process.

Did the Campbell government do that with B.C. Ferries?

I don't think so.

Was the sale of BC Rail a good clean kosher deal?

If the Basi-Virk trial ever begins or ends, we might find out.

The Globe has written an excellent editorial this morning on exactly this dilemma.

"As governments assess which services they should and should not provide, they need to decide when owning a company is in the public interest. A sale may make sense if it can satisfy four conditions: It should give the government an immediate upfront cash benefit; it should allow the public to continue to share in the profit the company makes; it should preserve the priority of the public good; and it should not harm vital public-policy interests."

All of this, is, of course, sound theory.

Practice is so very different, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

Okay. Okay. 'They' sell the assets and then what? Run up another mega deficit again next year? Keep selling until the Corps own us all? Oh! Yes! They already 'own' the politicians so it now easy to sell the rest I guess.

Anonymous said...

The federal government's proposed sale of AECL's Candu reactor division is a little more serious.

BC Mary said...

And the proposition (so far as we understand it) to give a 990-year lease on BC Rail for a sum considerably less than $1Billion when the tax credits are factored in ...

fails on all 4 counts. Fails.

Nowhere (so far as we can understand an agreement still partly hidden from us) does the BCR-CN deal take the public interest of the northern towns and villages into account,

other than to let the bean-counters decide whether or not the rail line near them made a profit, that year. And if it didn't make a profit, CN shareholders will howl that once-publicly-owned lines must be abandoned.

There's usually an inherent good in why a Hydro corporation, or a Ferry system, or a Railway was created as a pubicly-owned asset in the first place. I don't see where that has changed for BC's 3 major assets.

I saw the little editorial in The Globe and Mail at breakfast this morning and felt a bit sick ... it's so much more than "Need cash? Sell something!"

Can't help thinking of the Mad Max movies, these days.

Anonymous said...

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I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as memory becomes less expensive, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could experience in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i[/url] DS S3)